Emeralds

Does It Look Like I'm Here?

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There are all kinds of familiar elements at work on Emeralds' third album, and those elements will be especially familiar to anyone who was listening to avant pop electronic music in the 1970s. The slightly cheesy-sounding keyboard arpeggiations, the waveform generators, the sweet-and-sour analog synth sounds -- these are all basic elements of the earliest synthesized pop (and synthesized classical) music. To say that Emeralds take these elements and make them new would be an exaggeration, but to say that they make them their own would not be. Does It Look Like I'm Here? consists largely of tracks previously issued as a series of 7" vinyl singles but also includes new material recorded exclusively for this CD release; some of it sounds like a more energized Fripp & Eno (notice in particular the uptempo Frippertronics of "Candy Shoppe") and some of it seems a bit too self-consciously dated (consider the rather silly Moogisms of "Genetic"), but there are many moments of pure genius: "Summerdata" is intensely involving despite being largely arrhythmic; "It Doesn't Arrive" sounds like a slow helicopter going by with Brian Eno's Music for Airports playing on its stereo; "Access Granted," the album's final track, is four minutes of pure, pulsing beauty. All of it occupies a slightly uneasy borderland between ambient music and avant-garde experimentation, and all of it is well worth hearing.

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